Writing For The Web: Reading Vs. Scanning

by Burke Dorman
3 mins read
A man in a suit is holding a newspaper on a train.

Before most writers start to write their piece, they usually think about who they are writing for. What will their target audience be interested in…what will make them click?  The most common mistake is writers create content for print and post it online. They write content for people who will read it. But writing for the web is a lot different than writing for print. The main reason is that users don’t usually read content on the web, they scan it. So here comes the big question…how do engage your customers to click through your website if they are not actually reading your content? Answer: Create content the user can skim through.Here are 5 tips to help you write for the web.  Keep your content shortTry to say what you need to in 5 paragraphs or less. Your visitors are not on your site for a slow read. They are on your site because they need information to solve a problem quickly, which ideally is purchasing your product or service. Sentences should be as short as you can make them to get your message across. Digital content is consumed extremely quickly, and users can get impatient if they don’t feel like they’re getting something out of it – so write your content like you are speaking to someone on the phone and make your content conversational.  Create links that make users want to clickThe goal of a website is to engage viewers long enough to purchase your product or service. Links or buttons stand out from the rest of your copy and they are a great way to convey information and guide visitors to other pages. Don’t create links with the phrase “click here,” because it doesn’t provide any information to your visitors. Write links that best describe the content you are linking to. Keep the content in the button short, around 1 to 5 words.Highlight the most important pointsBecause visitors scan web content, you want to draw their eye to the most important points to get your message across quickly. Use text formatting, such as bolding or italics, and make lists when possible. But don’t overdo it – you don’t want to emphasize everything.Make use of headings and subheadingHeading and subheading make it easier for visitors to scan your content. A good rule of thumb is to break down paragraphs under different heading and subheadings, so your most important topics stand out….it also makes it easier for visitors to go to the sections that are most relevant to them. Avoid jargonIf people don’t understand what you are writing, they will look elsewhere. Instead of alienating certain visitors with language that they don’t understand, create an inclusive writing environment that is built around using words that everyone can relate to.Looking for someone to help manage your next campaign? Contact us here!

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